The Lean Concepts Study guide will help you review the philosophy and application of Lean. These concepts are incredibly important to modern practices. I’ve created an overview guide that links to in-depth articles on the various concepts. Hope it helps!

Lean Study Guide
Lean Study Guide. Photo by Steve Corey

Lean Concepts Study Guide

Lean Overview: Includes the Lean philosophy and steps for a Lean project.

Kaizen: Learn about the philosophy of continuous improvement, what a Kaizen event is, and how to run a Kaizen event.

Lean Metrics: Process Cycle Efficiency, Little’s Law, Work in Progress (WIP), Throughput, and Total Lead Time.

History of Lean: The history of lean involves luminaries such as Toyoda, Ford, Ohno, Taylor and many others.

5s: Sort, store, shine, standardize, sustain.

Classic Wastes: Lean is about removing waste. So what is waste?

Process Mapping: Before we can remove waste from a process we need to know what the process is.

Process Mapping Symbols: A glossary of images used in Process Mapping.

Value Stream Mapping: Lean seeks to increase the creation of value while decreasing the overall effort required of a process. So how do we identify what value is being created and where?

Value Added Steps: Lean is about eliminating waste and increasing value for the client. So what is a value-added step.

Value Stream Mapping Symbols: A glossary of images used in Value Stream Mapping.

Be sure that you are clear on the differences between Process Mapping and Value Stream Mapping.

Poka-Yoke: What is Poka-Yoke? What does it have to do with Lean? When and how would you use it?

Lean and the Theory of Constraints: Theory of Constraints views all processes as a chain of events that executes sequentially. Remember how a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?

 How is Lean different from Six Sigma? Lean and Six Sigma are two different concepts. By combining the two philosophies and technique sets, you can achieve incredible results.

Lean Concepts Study Guide Videos

Recommended Lean Reading List:

  • Lean Thinking: All businesses must define the “value” that they produce as the product that best suits customer needs. The leaders must then identify and clarify the “value stream,” the nexus of actions to bring the product through problems solving, information management, and physical transformation tasks. Next, “lean enterprise” lines up suppliers with this value stream. “Flow” traces the product across departments. “Pull” then activates the flow as the business re-orients towards the pull of the customer’s needs. Finally, with the company re-engineered towards its core value in a flow process, the business re-orients towards “perfection,” rooting out all the remaining muda (Japanese for “waste”) in the system.
  • The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook:  Blends Lean and Six Sigma tools and concepts, providing expert advice on how to determine which tool within a “family” is best for different purposes. Packed with detailed examples and step-bystep instructions, it’s the ideal handy reference guide to help Green and Black Belts make the transition from the classroom to the field.
  • The Toyota Way: In factories around the world, Toyota consistently makes the highest-quality cars with the fewest defects of any competing manufacturer, while using fewer man-hours, less on-hand inventory, and half the floor space of its competitors. The Toyota Way is the first book for a general audience that explains the management principles and business philosophy behind Toyota’s worldwide reputation for quality and reliability.
  • Value Stream Mapping: Value stream mapping–an essential but underused methodology–is a proven approach to help you visualize and resolve disconnects, redundancies, and gaps in your value delivery system. More than merely a tool to eliminate operational waste, value stream mapping is a highly effective means to transform leadership thinking, define strategy and priorities, and create customer-centric work flow.
  • A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System. Written by the industrial engineer who developed SMED (single-minute exchange of die) for Toyota, A Revolution in Manufacturing provides a full overview of this powerful just in time production tool. It offers the most complete and detailed instructions available anywhere for transforming a manufacturing environment in ways that will speed up production and make small lot inventories feasible. The author delves into both the theory and practice of the SMED system, explaining fundamentals as well as techniques for applying SMED. The critically acclaimed text is supported with hundreds of illustrations and photographs, as well as twelve chapter-length case studies.
  • Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poke-Yoke system. A combination of source inspection and mistake-proofing devices is the only method to get you to zero defects. Shigeo Shingo shows you how this proven system for reducing errors turns out the highest quality products in the shortest period of time. Shingo provides 112 specific examples of poka-yoke development devices on the shop floor, most of them costing less than $100 to implement. He also discusses inspection systems, quality control circles, and the function of management with regard to inspection.
  • A Study of the Toyota Production System: Here is Dr. Shingo’s classic industrial engineering rationale for the priority of process-based over operational improvements in manufacturing. He explains the basic mechanisms of the Toyota production system, examines production as a functional network of processes and operations, and then discusses the mechanism necessary to make JIT possible in any manufacturing plant.
  • Kaizen and the Art of Creative Thinking: Dr. Shingo reveals how he taught Toyota and other Japanese companies the art of identifying and solving problems. Many companies in the West are trying to emulate Lean but few can do it. Why not? Possibly, because we in the West do not recognize, develop and support the creative potential of every worker in solving problems. Toyota makes all employees problem solvers. Dr. Shingo gives you the tools to do it.
  • Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Success: For the professional manager or student of management, a comprehensive handbook of 16 Kaizen management practices that can be put to work. KAIZEN uses more than 100 examples in action and contains 15 corporate case studies.
  • Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy. How to implement cost-effective, incremental improvements in your most critical business processes. Global case studies from a wide range of industries demonstrate how gemba kaizen has been successfully used.

Bonus Lean Reading List:

  • The Lean Start Up: A trendy book in IT and Business circles these last few years. Author Eric Reis takes Lean Six Sigma concepts and applies them to launching a successful start up. Interestingly, these same concepts are not limited to start ups in Silicon Valley, but can be applied to all corporations regardless of size, age, or position in the market place.
  • One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way.  I’m a huge fan of applying Six Sigma and Lean techniques to every day life. This is a great guide that can help you. One Small Step Can Change Your Life is the gentle but potent way to effect change. It is for anyone who wants to lose weight. Or quit smoking. Or write a novel, start an exercise program, get out of debt, or conquer shyness and meet new people.


Comments (6)

Hi, the link for the Value Stream Symbols Glossary goes to the main Value Stream m
Mapping page, which does not explain any symbols. Can you check on that please? And, are VS symbols different than Process Map symbols?

Hi Andy,

We’ll target those items for future updates.

In the meantime, please use your original Six Sigma training materials for anything we don’t cover on the site.

Best, Ted.

Ditto for the link “Be sure that you are clear on the differences between Process Mapping and Value Stream Mapping.”

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